Citations: why they matter
APA, MLA, CBE, CSE, “Chicago” Style
Activity: citing your sources and checkin’ it twice
With any luck, you learned all of this in 111/112 and
remember it, but today, we’re going to talk about
references and citation.
Citations are of critical importance in technical
communication for three reasons:
Reason 1: Ethics. No one wants to trust a
lying liar thief liar thief jerkwad thief liar.
Reason 2: Ethos. If you’re giving me
information, I want to know you got it from
Reason 3: Breadcrumbs. If you’re doing it
right, you’re not giving your audience ALL of
the information in a source. But if the
audience WANTS all that information, they
need to know how to get it.
Citation styles are really as diverse as publications; many
journals will ask for their own little tweaks. But the big, core
citation formats are:
MLA, APA, CSE and Chicago style/Turabian
MLA format is the style of the Modern Language Association.
It is used primarily, as you might guess from the name, in
English and other language disciplines, though it is also favored
by some of the humanities.
Many people learn MLA because they learn citation in an
APA is the format of the American Psychological
Association. Once favored only by
psychologists/psychiatrists, it is now the general format used
by all social sciences (sociology, political science, criminal
justice) as well as many nursing programs. It is also favored
by tech-minded humanities (such as the computers and
writing wing of composition) because of the stress it places
CSE format is dictated by the Council of Science Editors
(formerly the Council of Biology Editors/CBE). It is much
more varied than MLA and APA, as it varies directly from
editor to editor and hasn’t had a major independent style
book published for several years. This is problematic, as
styles have evolved dramatically in recent years, but the
2006 guide is acceptable.
Chicago style was, for years and years, THE style used by
almost everyone. The footnotes, with the “ibid” for second
references to the same source. It is now used almost
exclusively by historians. Some high schools still teach it.
I have posted…
… some links to helpful resources for creating citations
and reference lists on the course website (with today’s
PPT). You’ll want to consult them during the activity.
If you have sources already, you can skip to the next step of
this activity. If you don’t, the first thing you need to do is find
a potential source for your report.
Once you’ve done that, I want you to create a citation for the
reference, and write a sentence citing it (mostly to make sure
you know how to do the in-text citation; you don’t have to
keep the sentence).
When you finish…
… find someone using the same citation format and
check each other. Talk a bit about how things appear
to work in your style. Let me know if you have
Spend the rest of class
… doing some research/starting to structure your research
If I can help, let me know.
For next Tuesday, read: Anderson, Chapter 7
And bring in the rough draft of your case study